My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION
"…WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION
WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING; FOR IT
IS GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU BOTH TOto
WILL AND TO DO FOR HIS GOOD
PLEASURE…HOLDING FAST THE WORD
OF LIFE…" (Philippians 2:12-15).
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Greece in his book "The Mind of the Orthodox Church" states, "The beginning of our experience of salvation is achieved by holy Baptism, which is also called an introductory sacrament because it introduces us to the life of the Church… With Baptism and Chrismation A NEW LIFE BEGINS. But this life must be continued and increased. This new life is expressed and energized by three basic factors: BY APPLYING THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST, BY DIVINE COMMUNION, AND BY PRAYER."
Salvation is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. It is the synergy between our Creator God and man. Saint Dionysios the Areopagite says union with God is achieved "only by love and holy work". There is no other alternative for the Orthodox Christian believer other than to live the new life "and this is achieved through Holy Communion and through prayer." No one can remain indifferent and aloof to the Lord’s invitation when He says, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love" (John 15:10). The Lord’s love is unconditional indeed but in order to work, we must keep His commandments and "abide" in His love. We show our love for God by obeying Him.
The contemporary Christian seeks "instant" salvation. A salvation devoid of any work, without any effort, without any sacriice, and without any obedience. A good servant obeys out of love. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ "And he was called the friend of God" (James 2:23). Abraham’s faith was a living and an active faith which brought salvation to him and to his household. Static and superficial kind of faith is hyporcitical and valueless. The struggle of the true Christian is an ongoing struggle between light and darkness, between our Savior Jesus Christ and the prince of this world. The spiritual warfare never ceases and the battle between good and evil will continue until the Second Cominng of Christ. To stay alive takes work, effort, sacrifice, vigilance, faith, commitment, obedience to God and His commandments, and if need be to sacrifice one’s life. Although the path to salvation is arduous and filled with obstacles Jesus gives the believer the strength and the ability to demolish all obstacles in his/her way.
Suffering and evil are NOT of God. It is because of our free will that we must experience pain and conflict in our lives. The Holy Father of the Church have written and were fully aware that there were no guarantees a Christian could avoid suffering, for the sake of his salvation. Even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, endured endured pain and suffering to save mankind from evil and death. Saint Paul writes: God is to be trusted nto to let us be tried beyond our strength, but with the trial He will provide a way out, so that we are able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Men of faith must trust in God and to rember the Lord’s Divine words, "…this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). The Orthodox Christian must be humble for without humility there is no virtue at all.
The authentic Christian faith is only one, Orthodox Christianity. Outside Orthodox Christianity prevails heresy, distortion, confussion, and outight deception. The Church founded by our Lord, God, Savior Jesus Christ remains and will continue to remain true to her Founder and Only Head. The current or contemporary heretics seek to stathly revise and corrupt the Faith from within but to no avail. It can never be done and they will fall to the waste side as so many other before who tried and failed. The Church is JESUS CHRIST Whom they have rejected and to their everlasting condemnation have chosen to join the demonic dark forces instead. How ludicrous and foolish they are to believe that they have the power to abolish Him and His Church. Salvation is found only in the Holy Church He founded and has faithfully kept it pure and undefiled for over two toudand years and the sacrifice of countless Orthodox Christian faithful.
You, the contemporary Orthodox Christian, is called upon to defend and promulgate the true faith. No Orthodox Christian can ever be complacent and indifferent to his/her calling. Th genuine Orthodox Christian remains steadfast in his or her faith no matter the circumstances or threats. The Holy Church was established by Our Redeemer and God for the purpose of bringing the Good News, the Good News that the Son of God "WHO DESIRES ALL MEN TO BE SAVED AND TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH" ( 1 Timothy 2:4). It is the Cross of the Savior that saves and not ours. Out of His unconditional love for us He sacrificed His life to save us.
Saint Paul reminds all of us "that perilous times will come for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-conrol, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power, and from such people turn away" (2 Timothy 3:1-5). The Church has seen this and other warnings as a referance to the days just before His Second Coming. Like prominent men of the past, present and future prominent men will willfully reject the holy Canons and dogmas of the Church out of pride, greed, love of power and lack of faith.
The dogma of salvation in Christ is the central dogma of Orthodox Christianity, the essence of our faith. The Theanthropos (The God Man), Our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Great Redeemer and Savior of all humanity. This salvation reveals the Almighty God’s abiding love for each of us. Because of Christ’s birth (His Incarnation) and His life lived for our sake, crowned by His death and Resurrection, we see how infinitely significance mankind is to the Creator. We are precious in His sight, and His mercy endures forever. Saint Clement of Rome wrote, "Christ gave Light and saved His children; our spirit was blinded…Thanks to Him the circle of darknesswhich shrouded us has been broken, and we recovered our sight."
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus wrote: "I ask, to whom was the Blood of Christ poured out? It it was to the evil one, alas. What belongs to Christ is offered to Satan. but if you say to God, how can this be, since we were in the grip of someone else? The RANSOM should go to the one who holds the captives. Can it be true that He offers a sacrifice to God in order that God Himself should snatch us from our captor and receive Christ as equivalent for those who have fallen? For [God] Himself is not capable of being taken captive. That is what we think." Another Holy Father of the Church, Saint Gregory the Dialogist of Rome writes, "It is not by faith that ou will to know Him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action. Saint John the Evangelist is my authority for this statement. He tells us that "ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO KNOW GOD WITHOUT KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS IS A LIAR". Consequently, the Lord immediately adds: "As the Father knows Me and I know the Father" and I lay down My life for My seep". Clearly, He means that laying down His life for His sheep gives evidence of His knowledge of the Father, and the Father’s knowledge of Him. In other words, by the love with which He dies for His sheep, He shows HOW GREATLY HE LOVES HIS Father."
Saint John Chrysostom states: "Taking all these things into account, and believing them in our heart; namely, that after this present life we are to stand before A FEARFUL TRIBUNAL, that we shall render an account, OF ALL WE HAVE DONE, THAT WE SHLL RECEIVE SENTENCE AND SUFFER PUNISHMENT IF WE REMAIN IN OUR SINS, OR THAT ON THE OTHER HAND WE SHALL RECEIVE A CROWN AND COUNTLESS OTHER GOOD THINGS, IF FOR THIS BRIEF PRESENT TIME WE HAVE A CARE FOR OUR SOULS, let us put to silence those who dare to say, to proclaim, what is contrary to this belief, and let us walk the paths of virtue, so that drawing near with a confident heart to that Tribunal, we may receive of th e good things He has promised us, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be Honor and Glory now and forever. Amen."
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George